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South Bend 13" - "Not" A Good Choice?

Why is the D1-4 spindle preferred? I know they're great because of spindle reversal. Is there gun smithing operations that require the reversing of the spindle?

(you can tell I'm no gun smith, right? However, I'm very interested in learning though)

First let me say that I am not a gunsmith, just an F-Class match target shooter my views on this subject are based on what will best put my bullets into the 5" circle that is the X Ring on a 1,000 yard F-Class target. That being said again IMHO the plain bearings of the SB13 or 10 give a smoother more accurate chamber than any other lathe that I can afford.
The D1-4 spindle is as you say needed for spindle reversal the most common uses would be cutting a thread without opening the half nuts or cutting a blind internal thread upside down and backwards . Do you absolutely need the D1-4 the answer is "no" but it does make life easier.
Videos on using the spider:

Chambering Video Part 1 .wmv - YouTube

Chambering Video Part 2.wmv - YouTube
 
The only disadvantage owned by a SB 13 lathe is that the height of the spindle and cross slide is little low for a tall worker. They will definitely remove material in tenth inch chunks.

A lathe with a threaded spindle nose can be run in reverse for threading barrel tenons because the cut is light. Still need to make sure it's tight before starting. I'd be more concerned about whether the cross slide has enough clearance to lift under the reverse cut.
 
Hey guys, I just stumbled onto an article where a couple guys were talking about how the SB13" wasn't a good choice for gun smithing - due to its "too long" spindle.

Can someone explain what ths means and why it isn't a good choice? I've heard that the Heavy 10 is a very popular choice. What are the pros and cons of a SB13" for smithing?

Depending on how you hold the barrel on the business end of the headstock, you can't do much to a barrel that's shorter than, oh, 26 to 28" through the headstock, on a SB 13.

In a Heavy 10, you can work on shorter barrels. The SB10 is regarded as pretty good for how short it is through the headstock.

That said, there's no burning "need" to work through the headstock. I've done barrels on a SB13, and I usually thread and chamber in the steady rest. I've done barrels on a SB Heavy 10 and I never understood why anyone would call that lathe "heavy." When I hear people keep yammering about how wonderful a "Heavy" 10 lathe is, all I can think of is that line from the movie _The Princess Bride_: "You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means."

All that said, I think the SB13 is a better lathe for general work than "Heavy" 10. For gunsmithing, it's a wash. The SB10 has finer feeds, but is ridiculously light in mass. The SB13 has two more speeds than the 10 does. I get a better finish when profiling barrels on a SB13 than on a 10.

Personally, I don't like the SB flat-belt lathes. No brake, they're too light, there's no engagement or switch on the carriage (which becomes a factor when you're working at the far end of the bed through the steady rest), they dribble oil all over the floor and Internet popularity/collectors have driven the price of used machines up above all limits of common sense.

If I saw one at a really good price (like < $800), I might be persuaded to tolerate one of them... if it came with a lifetime supply of oil-dry for my shop floor.
 
Yeah, the topic on this thread is NOT the "popularity" of South Bend 13" lathes, but if they're a good choice for gunsmithing.

Define "good."

There is no lathe extant that is a perfect fit for what gunsmiths do. Every machine out there will be a compromise in some manner.

Is a SB13 "good enough" to do gunsmithing? Yes. Should you get one? If one is in good condition and at the right price, sure, it's not a "bad" choice.

Are there better machines? Yes, quite possibly. The Clausing 5913/5914 would merit some attention, for example. There are Logan and other makers of lathes in the same sizes that gunsmiths find useful that merit consideration.

There's something of a cult that's grown up around SB lathes, with people paying what I view as unreasonably high prices to obtain them.

Why, I do not know. If South Bend had been as successful in marketing their product when the company was alive, they might not have gone out of business.
 
I've done barrels on a SB Heavy 10 and I never understood why anyone would call that lathe "heavy."

If I saw one at a really good price (like < $800), I might be persuaded to tolerate one of them... if it came with a lifetime supply of oil-dry for my shop floor.

Maybe the reason that the "Heavy 10" that you used dribbled oil was that it didn't have a chip pan. If you have ever tried to lift one, it weighs over 1,000 lbs without accessories. For it's compact size, it is a sturdy lathe, which is why it is prized by so many PM members. If you have a comparatively new model, with D1-4 spindle nose, hardened bed, taper attachment, steady and follower rests, and lever collet attachment, I see nothing not to like. It will be interesting to see if anyone offers you one for the price that you indicated. I paid Ferrous Antiquos $750 for mine!

Lord Byron
 
Maybe the reason that the "Heavy 10" that you used dribbled oil was that it didn't have a chip pan. If you have ever tried to lift one, it weighs over 1,000 lbs without accessories. For it's compact size, it is a sturdy lathe, which is why it is prized by so many PM members. If you have a comparatively new model, with D1-4 spindle nose, hardened bed, taper attachment, steady and follower rests, and lever collet attachment, I see nothing not to like. It will be interesting to see if anyone offers you one for the price that you indicated. I paid Ferrous Antiquos $750 for mine!

Lord Byron

I like lathes that go > 2,000 lbs. My idea of a "heavy" small lathe is a Monarch 10EE, at over 3,000 lbs.

And the chances that a SB 10 (or 13) is to be found anywhere near Wyoming for under $1K are slim and none.
 
Well, I don't know what other people's experience is with the SB10 and SB 13, but I have both a 10L and a late model SB 13 x 40 with the D1-4 spindle. I have done barrels in both lathes with no problems. I think the correct name for a "spider is a steady rest. The D1-4 spindle has the advantage of a larger spindle bore, which allows chamber work close to the chuck. This is nice, but not essential, if a steady rest is used. I have several steady rests and I use one that uses ball bearings that bear on the work. Also, when turning long lengths, I also use a follower rest, which prevents bowing under tool pressure. As far as power, both machines can take large cuts without difficulty. Stiffness is an issue with the 10L and correct tool geometry is very important or it will complain. Also, most home lathes in the states are powered with single phase power. Single phase motors create too much tortional vibration and tend to set up harmonics that induce finish issues and are often the initiation of tool chatter. The use of inverter technology with these lathes REALLY helps with these single phase issues. Another tip when doing chamber work close to the chuck is the use of delrin bushing on the far left side of the spindle to steady the barrel and keep it centered in the spindle.
Steve
 
Well wyop there is a bit of a cult following for SB lathes just like there used to be for 57 Chevy's and Corvettes. There are quite a few people, up here at least that restore the fool things to as new the same way people restore cars and trucks. They generally end up as dust collectors after restoration. The machine I'm running now is about 1/2 ton stripped of chucks, tailstock, tray and stand. I suppose loaded its close to 1600 pounds but I find it to be annoyingly light and I'm forever having to compensate for the low mass. Mind you I guess everything is relative and if I hadn't ran bigger machines in the past and had no common frame of reference I probably wouldn't be complaining. LOL

Most of the rage with running barrels in the headstock seams to have gotten started with the huge influx of cheep, used 36 inch centers and shorter machines that have flooded the hobby market and the long barrel rage. There just isn't enough bed and alternate methods had to be found. The internet has definitely added to this phenomenon. Some gunsmiths talk but the majority are very tight lipped about what they do and how they do it. In the end hobbyists learn from hobbyists and now working in the headstock has become all the rage again just like it was for my age group back in 1979. I have been forced to work both ways over the years in different shops but for my own use I stay away from anything shorter than 55 inch in bed length or 40 inch centers and do all barrel work outside the headstock now.

Oddly enough I have often heard about the 3 phase power issue in the hobby circles but I have never once heard it mentioned in machine shops and only in gunshops when someone buys an old 3 phase machine and has to run it off a converter. A lot of shops I have been in, or worked in have had machines on either side of the fence. But outside of a bit of complaining about the cost of single phase power its never been an issue. Nor have I ever noticed a difference between machines running on single phase or three phase power when I was running them. If I had my choice I would always run 3 phase but that is based on cost of power alone. No doubt there are theoretical differences, but when it comes right down to the practical side of it, it really seams to be a non issue.
 
Rod,

I've run machines like a Caz HB575 -- over 6,000 pounds of French iron that leaves a beautiful finish pass; if I have to polish the material, I'd be starting at 320.

It also has the ability to both Imperial and Metric threads and feeds at the push of a lever. Put on a 40-position Multifix tool holder and you're off to the races. Monarch 10EE's are my favorite small lathe; lots of mass and a 5HP motor to remove material fast before I get down to the finish cuts.

About the only thing I don't like about the Caz 5xx machines is where they put the gearbox for the speed selection. If you turn to your left without stepping back from the machine, you can catch a gearshift lever right in the family jewels. Even with a few jabs in the 'nads, I still think quite highly of this machine: Big, solid, gobs of power, Imperial/Metric threads, smooth operation, a tight, quiet gearbox, etc.

re: Center-to-center length: I agree, a 40-inch CtC should be what a rifle or shotgun smith looks for now. If he'll be doing any work on .50 BMG rifles or trap gun barrels, he might consider a 50 or 60 inch CtC lathe. 10 to 14" is all that is required for a swing.
 
I used a Monarch (not sure of the model) in the first shop I worked in 30 years ago and it was a nice machine. The only headache was that the bed was a bit short and we had to drive shotgun tooling in MT#3 collets to make ends meet. Other than that it was a fine machine.

I got a machinist buddy started on barrel and chamber work about 3 years ago and the only machine he had that would qualify was a new Colchester Mascot. I was a bit surprised as he had a 6 jaw scroll on it and when we checked it out it ran under .001 inch at the jaws so rather than use collets or run it on centers we just recut the centers, trued 1 inch of the muzzle and ran the muzzle in the chuck. I'm not used to scroll chucks running that good. Mind you I'm not used to running new machines that are worth more than a new truck either. Looks a bit silly doing a barrel in an 80 inch machine but its just the same as a 40 inch. You just have a place at the end to set your coffee cup is all.
The only complaint I have ever had with big machines is changing chucks. At five ten and 160 pounds its always a bit of a war for me.

No matter what I use now I will always keep an old belt drive machine around for threading brakes. Driving ridged held taps at high speed in the tailstock seams to give a lot cleaner and accurate results than tapping heads. It would be nice to have a CNC mill or lathe for idiot work like that but in the gun industry, I don't see it happening. Not for me anyway unless I win a lottery. LOL
 
Well, I don't know what other people's experience is with the SB10 and SB 13, but I have both a 10L and a late model SB 13 x 40 with the D1-4 spindle. I have done barrels in both lathes with no problems. I think the correct name for a "spider is a steady rest. The D1-4 spindle has the advantage of a larger spindle bore, which allows chamber work close to the chuck. This is nice, but not essential, if a steady rest is used. I have several steady rests and I use one that uses ball bearings that bear on the work. Also, when turning long lengths, I also use a follower rest, which prevents bowing under tool pressure. As far as power, both machines can take large cuts without difficulty. Stiffness is an issue with the 10L and correct tool geometry is very important or it will complain. Also, most home lathes in the states are powered with single phase power. Single phase motors create too much tortional vibration and tend to set up harmonics that induce finish issues and are often the initiation of tool chatter. The use of inverter technology with these lathes REALLY helps with these single phase issues. Another tip when doing chamber work close to the chuck is the use of delrin bushing on the far left side of the spindle to steady the barrel and keep it centered in the spindle.
Steve
The theory that single phase motors create too much tortional vibration and set up harmonics that induce finish problems and are often initiate tool chatter. This is something that I have never heard of. I would like some other opinions on this theory. Could it be that your single phase power in Germany is 220 volt?

Lord Byron
 
I think in theory there is something to it Bruce. I have run into two or three of those super good deals on three phase power machines that would have had to have been tied into three phase converters over the years. Of course after all the BS of having converters installed for the motors and the coolant pumps they always ended up becoming a very expensive, Mickey Mouse operation that could be easily cured by buying a new single phase machine. But, I have noticed that every one of the salesmen selling the converters leaned heavily on how smoothly three phase machines ran in comparison to single phase machines. All in all, I do think its one of those (how many angels can dance on the head of a pin) arguments though. One thing for certain is that I always get the urge to wear Kevlar pants every time I call one of those clowns for an estimate. I always wondered where all the aluminum siding salesmen ended up at the end of the 1960s.
 
The theory that single phase motors create too much tortional vibration and set up harmonics that induce finish problems and are often initiate tool chatter. This is something that I have never heard of. I would like some other opinions on this theory. Could it be that your single phase power in Germany is 220 volt?

Lord Byron

It is pretty well known that single phase induction motors have a characteristic vibration at twice the line frequency. So if you're running a single phase induction motor at 60Hz (typical US line frequency), you'll get a characteristic 120Hz vibration. It doesn't have anything to do with the voltage, it has to do with how the single phase motor creates a rotating magnetic field with only one phase. Polyphase (ie, two phase and three phase) and DC motors don't have this problem. The polyphase motors are able to create a rotating field in an induction motor without extra windings or phase shifting caps/coils.

Here's a pretty nice summary of single phase induction motors and various start/run phasing setups, without all the math that most of us EE's use in trying to explain motors:

http://www.tcf.com/docs/fan-enginee...-induction-squirrel-cage-motors---fe-1100.pdf

The vibration issue is mentioned at the bottom of p 3 and top of p 4. The motor type summaries mention the 120Hz vibration issue.

Now, as to "how much does it matter?" Well, that depends on how the motor itself is mounted to the machine, and how the output shaft of the motor is coupled to the machine. A good belt drive to a large spinning mass (eg, a large chuck) and vibration isolation mounts takes care of most of it.
 
The theory that single phase motors create too much tortional vibration and set up harmonics that induce finish problems and are often initiate tool chatter. This is something that I have never heard of. I would like some other opinions on this theory. Could it be that your single phase power in Germany is 220 volt?

Lord Byron

Yes, it is 220V, but that's not the issue, it is frequency. At 50Hz you can hear the vibration in single phase motors. 3 phase motors are very noticably smoother. I bought my 10L new from SB in 1980 when I replaced my SB9 and from the very beginning when turning long diameter sections in high gear, I found a strange very fine scroll type pattern in the finish. This pattern was very fine and only visible on high polished surfaces. I tried everything to no avail in order to eliminate the problem and lived with it for years. I have 3 lathes, but only the little 10L was powered with single phase power. Going to 3 phase power totally eliminated that problem. Additionally, when turning long diameters the tendency of the machine to break into tool chatter as the carraige approached the work center between spindle and tailstock also drastically improved. I'm not talking about a clapped out lathe. This little 10L was new, tight and set up dead straight.
 
Some more on AC induced vibration. We ran tens of thousands of turned plastic discs on a shop built CNC during the 90s. The CNC slide was very light duty. Vibrations came from both the AC and the V belt. We could have tried 3 phase but went to a DC motor and O ring type belt. It then ran good enough after that.
I read that the Russians recognized AC as being a source of vibration also and built flywheel powered super finishing lathes for some special need aplications, probably military. They would run the flywheel up to RPM then cut the power and finish.
Sometimes to break chatter we cut the power for a second or 2. Which caused the chatter to break the change of RPMs or the momentary removal of the AC source? Probably a little of both.
 
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Speerchucker, I believe Ron Smith has a 13" S.B. in his shop. There are 2 different 13" headstock lengths, one has 3 belt postions, the other 4.

He very well may have. Ron was already tooled up and making barrels in 1981 when I was 20 and he seamed old to me then. I'm 51 now so that puts him some where roughly between 80 and 150 years old. I haven't been in his shop in 15 or 20 years so I can't say what he has for machinery but I would lay odds that whatever he has is 60 years old by now or older so Southbends would have been state of the art back then for gunsmiths so you are probably right.
 
I’ve done about 3 dozen chamber/threading jobs on my 16 S-B and a couple on a Heavy Ten. No issues what so ever. Mine has a rather anemic 2 hp motor that rather hinders it and it’s not the first lathe I go to but it works just fine. Hope this helps. Earl.
 
Thanks guys. I actually learned quite a bit. Gun-smithing is something I'm really looking forward to leaning. I'd like to check out some schools. The work itself seems so interesting because it's a marriage between machining & shooting. Two things I really love...
 








 
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